(Note: The following guest post, by longtime reader and fellow blogger Roberto Silvers, is an open letter offering some free political advice for Venezuela’s parliamentary opposition)
by Roberto Silvers
23 March 2011 (Caracas)
Honorable Opposition Deputies of the National Assembly of Venezuela –
It is time for a strategy change. I have watched you closely for three months, and last night’s display of ineffective reciprocal rudeness was the last straw. Therefore, to facilitate the needed change, I have prepared a simple three-step guide. I hope you are paying attention, because this is important. Really.
RULE #1: Stop Shouting!
Simple enough, right?! Regardless, I will explain how and why below.
RULE #2: “Be the better man”
This is the toughest of the three rules. Go ahead, surprise me.
RULE #3: Define yourself
Are you an “extremist right-wing imperialist” or are you just acting like one?
RULE #1 – STOP SHOUTING!
Nobody likes to be shouted at. You don’t. My mom doesn’t. Even chavistas don’t. Stop shouting at people. They don’t like it. It’s rude.
Besides, shouting is their game. As was evidenced again last night, Eeckout, Escarra, Flores and Isturiz love to get all worked-up and spiral uncontrollably into surreal revolutionary rhetorical diatribes before raising their voice to the top of their throats and inspiring righteous chanting from their compatriots. Shouting is unnecessary except under extreme circumstances. It’s sick. And annoying. And scary. Don’t do it.
Don’t copy them. Your role is to plainly and seriously call them out on their nonsense. Expose them. Some of their claims and Utopian interpretations of Venezuela’s present reality are utterly ridiculous. Calmly and respectively reveal them as such to the Venezuelan electorate. Be professional. Be smart. Be legislators, por Dios! Do not stoop to their level!
“BE THE BETTER MAN”
Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase. Though out of date in gender terms, “be the better man” is perfectly applicable to your current political predicament. The Venezuelan electorate is desperately waiting for someone to “be the better man”. Everyone but the most hardcore chavista is sick of all the insults and demagoguery (from both sides) and ready to praise examples of real democratic integrity, leadership and workmanship in the nation’s parliament. Be that example.
Do not respond to their insults with more of your own. I know you do not want to seem weak. However, in the face of sensationalism and hatred, your reasoned responses and educated commentary would undoubtedly shine. More so, at least, than your current expressions of spite and confrontation. The Venezuelan people are hungry for a change. You are currently presenting yourselves as merely more of the same from the opposite extreme. Stop it.
Reexamine and reorient. Step up. Be the better man.
Part of Chávez’ perpetual electoral strategy is the combination of blind anti-imperialism with the demonization of the opposition as extreme-right, ideologically. I know it is politically sensitive among the parties of the opposition coalition, but you must begin to publicly refute this dangerous and incorrect characterization.
PSUV deputies are consistently defining you in their own terms. It is now time to refute and correct every single false label utilized to describe individual deputies or the opposition in general. You must distance yourself from the past by defining who you are now. What do you stand for? And more importantly, what do you NOT stand for?
Perhaps you are unable to define yourselves collectively; but you can no longer let that stop you from defining yourselves individually. Every opposition deputy should be able to stand up and forcefully speak for themselves, their ideals, and their core beliefs. With elections next year, you can no longer afford to wait to define yourself. You must define, present and fiercely protect your political identity and ideology. If you do not define yourself, someone else already has. Get on it. Now.
Do not fight the politics of radicalization and division with more of the same. You must refuse that discourse. You must shift the paradigm. You must be the change that you promise.
Stop shouting! Be the better man. Define yourself.
Do it now. There is no time to lose.